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CNMI governor: 'Don't dwell on problems, focus on solutions'

Updated: Mar 24


Public official speaking on the podium
CNMI Gov. Arnold Palacios speaks at the"Charting Our Future Economic Development Summit" held March 21 at the World Resort Taga Ballroom. Photo by Bryan Manabat

By Bryan Manabat


Saipan--- CNMI Gov. Arnold I. Palacios urged the community to lay aside their differences and "take on the challenges facing the island economy" and work together toward charting "a bold course toward economic recovery."


Policymakers, agency heads, business leaders, non-profit group representatives, and community stakeholders gathered at the World Resort Taga Ballroom on March 21 for a summit to develop a blueprint for CNMI economic recovery.


"We need to put our collective differences aside and work together as a team," said Palacios, the guest speaker at the conference billed "Charting Our Future Economic Development Summit."


"We must work together to provide a clear, realistic, and measurable path to economic growth through the implementation of sustainable, long-term strategies," Palacios said.


The summit was hosted by Matrix Consulting Group, a federally funded advisor to the governor.


The CNMI economy has been in a slump since the Covid-19 pandemic paralyzed its tourism, followed by two supertyphoons.


While mentioning the previous administration's "questionable use of millions of federal dollars originally intended to provide economic stability," Palacios said he would stop there.

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"I want to make it clear: the lt. governor and I did not invite all of you here to dwell on the economic problems of the CNMI or to belabor and lay blame on past mistakes and administrations," the governor said.


"Instead, we invited all of you here to focus on solutions, to harness and deploy your collective insight and creativity, and to help overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of economic recovery and prosperity," Palacios said.


While succumbing to pessimism and doubt may be everyone's default attitude during hard times, the governor challenged stakeholders to "help turn economic adversity into advantage and opportunity."


"It's during these moments that our resilience, our innovation, and our island ingenuity shine the brightest," he said. "Economic recovery cannot be achieved by any one individual, by any one of the branches of government, by the private sector alone, or by any singular department of agency working in silos."


He warned against sliding back to the same failed economic policies such as the CNMI's overreliance on a single economic driver.


Since the collapse of the garment industry, the CNMI has been dependent on tourism.


Policymakers, agency heads, business leaders, non-profit group representatives, and community stakeholders gathered at the World Resort Taga Ballroom on March 21 for a summit to develop a blueprint for CNMI economic recovery. Photo by Bryan Manabat

Palacios shared a vision of maximizing military partnership and investment "that does not devalue our natural resources or impact the affordability and quality of life for CNMI residents."


He envisioned improved access to healthcare and education by working with the federal government and modernizing seaports, airports, utilities, and other infrastructure to enhance investment opportunities in the CNMI.


"Our vision is one that every citizen of our commonwealth will look to with pride, anticipation, and a desire to work forward," Palacios said.


This summit also focused on critical infrastructure projects not only to attract but also to sustain investor interest and engagement.


"As we stand at the crossroads of progress, your insights and expertise are invaluable to us. Together, we aim to delve into emerging market sectors that promise to enhance our economic landscape, pinpointing those ripe for innovation and investment," he added.


" Your participation is crucial in illuminating these avenues of growth, enabling us to map out strategies that attract investment and foster a thriving economic ecosystem," the governor told the summit delegates.



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